The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors passed amendments prohibiting parking in handicapped spaces for those who are not handicapped and to prohibit parking in all designated fire lanes whether on public or private property. Violations will result in a $100 fine.
Westmoreland County Attorney Richard Stuart said the amendments to the ordinance gives the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s office the power to issue tickets and allows the revenue from these tickets to go to the county as opposed to the state.
Supervisor Russ Culver asked Stuart, If a driver remains in the vehicle is it considered a violation? Stuart said, “If one driver remains in the car, you are not guilty.” However if an emergency vehicle approaches the vehicle must be moved.
During the public hearing speakers had little tolerance for anyone parking in the fire lane.
Susan Saunders said, “If it says no, it should mean no!” Saunders does not believe people should be allowed to park and leave their vehicle running. She asked what if there is an emergency and the Fire Department or Rescue Squad has to ask 4 vehicles to move?
Helen Wilkins said she feels that many of the people parking in fire lanes are young and cars are left running with children in them. Wilkins feels that redbox is also a big contributor to the problem.
Bobby Saunders has been in law enforcement since 1980. He said the ordinance is a step in the right direction but said the problem is that people say they are not parked, their standing. He suggested restricting it to no parking or standing. Saunders also feels the fine is too small and should be $500.
County Administrator Norm Risavi said the fine is set by the legislature.
Roberson agreed that standing is where the problems lies and feels that ‘no standing’ should be added to the ordinance.
Stuart explained that the prior to passing this ordinance the enforcement of no parking in fire lanes on private property was the responsibility of the property owner or business, however this legislation give the Sheriff’s Department the ability to enforce the parking restrictions on public and private property through-out the county.
Chairman Darryl Fisher said he believes that with the new ordinance in place giving the Sheriff’s Department the power to enforce the law will deter people from abusing the fire lane or handicapped parking spaces. He also feels there will be some instances where folks have a legitimate reason for temporarily being in the fire lane. As long as the vehicle is not left unattended and is moved when asked by an officer or when an emergency vehicle approaches he feels there is no need to change the ordinance to include standing.